The basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF) is a potent mitogen that has vascular endothelium as one of its principle target cells. Recent work has provided both the complete amino acid sequence of basic FGF and the nucleotide sequence of the genes for both human and bovine basic FGF. Although capillary endothelial cells have been shown to produce basic FGF in vitro and to deposit basic FGF in their extracellular matrix in vitro as well, no direct evidence yet exists for the distribution of basic FGF in vivo. Antipeptide antibodies were prepared against a 15-amino-acid sequence from the amino terminus of basic FGF in order to avoid cross-reactivity with acidic FGF, a protein with 55% overall homology to basic FGF. After affinity purification, these antisera were used to localize the basic fibroblast growth factor in the fetal and adult bovine retina. Immunoreactive material was found in capillaries of the inner nuclear layer, a capillary network undergoing development during the third trimester in the fetal bovine eye. Although the resolution of the technique does not permit a unique assignment of cellular localization, the presence of stain immediately adjacent to the lumen of capillaries suggests that capillary endothelial cells may produce the basic fibroblast growth factor in vivo during vascular development.